Scientists probe Jupiter's violent storms, lightning strikes

Scientists probe Jupiter's violent storms, lightning strikes

Scientists probe Jupiter's violent storms, lightning strikes

Hubble utilizes visible and ultraviolet light while Gemini uses thermal infrared.

Sferics is short for atmospherics, while whistlers are named from their whistling tone.

"Because we now routinely have these high-resolution views from a couple of different observatories and wavelengths, we are learning so much more about Jupiter's weather", said Simon.

Finding lightning in clouds can help researchers learn more about how much water is in the atmosphere of Jupiter. Not even lightning storms are like Earth's.

Since then, most of the observed lightning strikes have taken place at the planet's poles, whereas on Earth, the majority hit around the equator. "Juno's microwave radiometer probes deep into the planet's atmosphere by detecting high-frequency radio waves that can penetrate through the thick cloud layers". The Gemini data clearly reveal the clearings in the high-level clouds where it is possible to get a glimpse down to the deep water clouds.

The Hubble data indicate the height of the thick clouds in the convective towers, as well as the depth of water clouds deep in the planet.

Wong thinks that lightning is common in a type of turbulent area known as folded filamentary regions, which suggests that moist convection is occurring in them. The lightning of Jupiter and the great storms form both inside and around the large convective cells positioned above deep and humid clouds.

"We want to know how Jupiter's atmosphere works", said Wong.

This project is enabling scientists to investigate the weather on Jupiter and approximate the humidity found in the planet's atmosphere, resulting in some certain information about the inner workings of Jupiter and other planets in our over four billion years old solar system.

The storm bands that encircle the entire gas giant reach far higher than our own atmosphere, and penetrating the thick smog has proven extremely hard for even our most advanced instruments, whether space based or located back here on Earth.

The support of Hubble and Gemini during Juno's mission also offers researchers a window on Jupiter's climate in general, such as wind patterns, atmospheric waves and cyclones, as well as its gases and heat. "This is our equivalent of a weather satellite". "We can finally start looking at the weather cycles". Images of the on-going storm are sent back by Juno, and other missions have revealed dark features that evolve within the storm. In visible light, these appear dark. It is also quite special thanks to the fact that it was filmed in infrared, which can pierce through Jupiter's clouds, which swirls and reveals what is happening next. Usually, this is blocked by Jupiter's massive clouds.

In infrared, Jupiter's warm layers deep beneath the clouds appear to glow through cloud gaps.

"It's a bit like a jack-o-lantern", said Wong. "You see bright infrared light coming from cloud-free areas, but where there are clouds, it's really dark in the infrared".

The varying wavelength on Jupiter's Great Red Spot's images reveals its secrets. The researchers even coined the term "lucky images, quot; to describe the technique they use to obtain a clear image".

The technique enabled the team to obtain "ultra-sharp Gemini infrared images" of the planet, said the observatory. "These images compare with the view from the space", says Michael Wong.

For instance, Gemini was able to get 300-mile resolution on Jupiter. "With this resolution, the telescope could resolve the two headlights of a vehicle in Miami, viewed from New York City".

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